Classic Newt at Politics & Eggs

Listening to Newt Gingrich has always been like taking a drink from a fire hose, and his appearance at the New England Council’s Politics & Eggs breakfast this morning at Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics was no exception.

Gingrich is a master at using stories to make his point, and the former college professor and lifetime student of history took several minutes of his 28 minute speech to talk about the Wright brothers and how they invented and developed the airplane. Gingrich’s point: They didn’t seek a government grant, they just did it. Henry Ford and Bill Gates built great industries without seeking government grants. The railroads were built by the private sector without any Federal Department of Railroads.

“The economy is in recession and people are underestimating the chances of it deteriorating further,” Gingrich said, saying his theme was “jobs now.”

The debt ceiling debate “spectacle” indicates that our “political mechanisms for self-government are in trouble.” President Obama’s speech last night amounted to “grandstanding,” though Gingrich backed the President’s call for extending the payroll tax cut. “We have a president today who doesn’t learn. President Carter was a little like that,” Gingrich said. Warren Buffett, “bureaucratic socialism,” Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the EPA all came under passing criticism, and Gingrich used several minutes to critique the Obama administration’s recent raid on the Gibson Guitar facility.

After concluding his wide-ranging 28 minute address, Gingrich took 12 minutes to answer two questions. The first was from a student who asked Gingrich to expand on his debate comments the other night about the media. Gingrich complained that the media is in a rush to make it a two-person race and that the early questions were clearly “designed to start a fight.” He said, “The country is sick of the game.”

The second, from business leader Fred Kocher, was about how Washington has changed.  Gingrich again turned to a story, talking about how American Express uses sophisticating techniques and computers to avoid making fraudulent payments, tactics Medicaid and other welfare programs should also use.

Gingrich concluded by talking about he asks people to be “with” him instead of “for” him, seeking involvement over the long haul. “If you think one person can change Washington, then you’re as delusional as Obama.”

Gingrich had a certain detachment about him this morning. He happily autographed wooden eggs people brought to him, but otherwise he did not seek people out or campaign aggressively. The audience of 80 people was mostly business people and people associated with the college, and was a little thin on likely primary voters.

fergus@ferguscullen.com, September 9, 2011

Author: Fergus Cullen

Fergus Cullen is a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party (2007-2008) and an editorial page columnist for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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